Thursday, May 26, 2011

Secret of Obed Edom, faulty premise more likely

In recent times, books, articles, and sermons had been spun out of this so-called secret of Obed-Edom, or the pleasing ways of Obed-Edom. Many of them were erroneous, for their core premise of one Obed-Edom throughout, was faulty. In this long article, by addressing who Obed-Edom was, I will show indeed the core premise used was incorrect, and therefore, the conclusions drawn are NOT admissible as exhortations from the life of an individual called Obed-Edom.

Link to author's cross catalogue
The following are the few questions that we need to address, with given information in the Bible:

1. The Obed-Edom who housed the ark for 3 months, who was he?
2. The Obed-Edom that followed the 2nd attempt by King David to bring the ark to City of David, who was he?
3. Who was the Obed-Edom who was said to be a musician? And who was the Obed-Edom who was said to be a gatekeeper?
4. And lastly, who was the Obed-Edom who was said to have been the treasurer?

The Obed-Edom who housed the ark for 3 months, who was he?
10 He {David} was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household. (2 Sam 6:10-11).

The above was recorded of what David did after his first (failed) attempt to bring the ark of the LORD to the City of David (old Jerusalem), from the house of Abinadab. The ark was “parked” in the house of Obed-Edom, the Gittite, for 3 months. Who was this Obed-Edom? First, we need to know who was a Gittite? Scripture tells us that he was a native of Gath, one of the 5 main cities of the Philistines:

From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines; the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites: (Jos 13:3, KJV)
from the Shihor River on the east of Egypt to the territory of Ekron on the north, all of it counted as Canaanite (the territory of the five Philistine rulers in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron—that of the Avvites);(Jos 13:3, NIV)

This verse below confirms that indeed, Gittites were natives of Gath:

All his {David’s} men marched past him, along with all the Kerethites and Pelethites; and all the six hundred Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath marched before the king. (2 Sam 15:18 – Here David was fleeing from Jerusalem because his son, Absalom, has revolted against him)

Now, from the above, we are clear that Gittites were natives of Gath; whether or NOT, Gittites also referred to residents of Gath-Rimmon, the Bible does NOT say. Gath-Rimmon (became of Dan, was believed, situate in the northen part of Dan, near{er} to the Yarkon River) and Gath (of Philistines, nearer to the Valley of Elah) were believed NOT the same.  Scripture said this of Gath-Rimmon, in Joshua 21 - it was one of the many towns given to the Levites in the Promised Land:

23 Also from the tribe of Dan they received Eltekeh, Gibbethon, 24 Aijalon and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands—four towns. 25 From half the tribe of Manasseh they received Taanach and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands—two towns. 26 All these ten towns and their pasturelands were given to the rest of the Kohathite clans. (Joshua 21:23-26).

Now, there are people who linked “Gittite” to Gath-Rimmon, but they gave NOT their reasons. Of course, it does NOT make sense if David is said to have passed through Gath (in the territory of the Philistines) in trying to bring the ark to Jerusalem, for the house of Abinadab was already inside Israel’s territory (Kiriath Jearim {see 1 Chron. 13:6}); but that does NOT mean that the ark was necessarily parked at Gath-Rimmon even though Gath-Rimmon was inside Israel (and Gath was outside); 2 Sam 6:10-11 only said the ark was put aside in the house of a Gittite; not necessarily the place was Gath (regardless, Gath or Gath-Rimmon). Well, even the threshing floor of Nacon where Uzzah was killed for his “unauthorized touch” of the ark has NOT been identified (Nacon, likely to the name of a person, owner of the threshing floor, perhaps). 2 Sam 6:10-11 only said that the ark was taken aside to the house of a Gittite, most likely, a place in Israel, but NOT necessarily in Gath-Rimmon (You can look up old maps on the internet on the likely locations of Gath and Gath-Rimmon yourself.  I will NOT put any here, for copyright reason).

The most plausible conclusion to draw is that the ark was parked in Israel’s territory, at a house on the way from the house of Abinadab to the City of David; and that house belonged to a Gittite. It is completely possible that a native of Gath, therefore, called a Gittite, was staying in the land of Israel, for among the most faithful followers and warriors of King David were the Gittites, and 600 of them were still with David even when David was fleeing Jerusalem when his son, Absalom, revolted against him (2 Sam 15:18 – given above). The Gittites were loyalists; when David was a fugitive from King Saul, they followed David; and when David was again on the run, from his son, Absalom, they still remained loyal. I think it is NOT wrong to say they, despite being Gentiles (non-Israelites), were special vessels of God.

One possible reason for bringing in Gath-Rimmon, by people, I speculate could be because, they wanted to believe the ark of the LORD must be housed with a Levite or Levitical family, and Gath-Rimmon was given to the Kohathites-Levites, as was recorded in Joshua 21:23-26; but did it happen so? I reckoned nearly no one had wanted to take the ark of the LORD then! Even King David was afraid to continue to bring the ark to his City of David. Just imagine, even the son of Abinadab, Uzzah, died for the “unauthorized touch” of the ark. The ark was in the house of Abinadab for 20 years, yet Uzzah was struck dead when he was acting in good faith to steady the ark when the oxen stumbled. Indeed, many would be afraid to take the ark home. It was probably, a loyal Gittite coming to aid of the King, agreed to take the ark back to his house in that place. That Gittite was Obed-Edom.

Obed-Edom was indeed loyal and bold, for Gittites, taking the stance that Gittites were natives of Gath (and NOT Gath-Rimmon), would most likely, of all peoples with David, to remember that 20 years before that, when the ark was captured by the Philistines and circulated in the cities of the Philistines, God inflicted plagues against all the cities of the Philistines, including Gath (God brought tumors there!). But God honored the Gittite, Obed-Edom. God blessed him and his entire household (2 Sam 6:11), for the 3 months the ark was in his house. Frankly speaking, there was no evidence to expect the Gittite was a Levite, for in the first attempt (ark was put aside in this first attempt), David was NOT tasking the Levites to bring back the ark to the City of David; we only know that David went with 30,000 able young men of Israel (2 Sam 6:1). To me, squarely, the ark of the LORD did get housed in a Gentile’s house, and NOT a Levite’s house, and the LORD blessed that Gentile and his entire household.

Who was the Obed-Edom who housed the ark for 3 months? He was Obed-Edom, the Gittite, native of Gath, one of the 5 main cities of the Philistines.

The Obed-Edom that followed the 2nd attempt by King David to bring the ark to City of David, who was he?
1 Chronicles 15 recorded for us, how King David went about to bring the ark of the LORD to the City of David (old Jerusalem) from the house of Obed-Edom; in other words, it was a recording of the 2nd attempt of David to bring the ark to (old) Jerusalem, NOT of the 1st attempt. In Chr 15:4 we read David called together the descendants of Aaron and the Levites, and a whole list of names was given. Realising his mistake, David wanted the priests and Levites to do everything as prescribed by Moses in regard to moving the ark. Among other things, we also read in 1 Chr 15:16-24, this:

16 David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their fellow Levites as musicians to make a joyful sound with musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. 17 So the Levites appointed Heman son of Joel; from his relatives, Asaph son of Berekiah; and from their relatives the Merarites, Ethan son of Kushaiah; 18 and with them their relatives next in rank: Zechariah,[b] Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel,[c] the gatekeepers. 19 The musicians Heman, Asaph and Ethan were to sound the bronze cymbals; 20 Zechariah, Jaaziel,[d] Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benaiah were to play the lyres according to alamoth,[e] 21 and Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, Jeiel and Azaziah were to play the harps, directing according to sheminith.[f] 22 Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it. 23 Berekiah and Elkanah were to be doorkeepers for the ark. 24 Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah and Eliezer the priests were to blow trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-Edom and Jehiah were also to be doorkeepers for the ark (1 Chr 15:16-24).

David had wanted to have music and singing to accompany the procession, and the Levites appointed from among themselves (i.e. Levites) people to take various roles. Verse 17 said that Heman (a Kohathite-Levite {1 Chr 6:33-38}) was appointed, and from his relatives, Asaph (a Gershonite-Levite {1 Chr 6:39-42}) was appointed, and from their relatives, the Merarites (Kohathites, Gershonites and Merarites were sub-tribes within the Levi tribe – see 1 Chr 23:6 given below), headed by Ethan (Merarite-Levite {1 Chr 6:44-46}). Included among the 2nd tier Levites (“next in rank”) was one Obed-Edom who was a gatekeeper (v18). So, from here, we can see that the Obed-Edom here was a gatekeeper. He was a Levite, NOT a Gittite, NOT a warrior or bodyguard of David.

3 sets of instruments, cymbals, lyres and harps, were decided to be played. For the cymbals, the musician heads, Heman, Asaph and Ethan would be doing that. Verse 20 listed those who would play the lyres; for the harps, Obed-Edom, the Levite, was involved in there (v21). Another Levite head, Kenaniah, was in charge of singing (v22). Two senior Levites were assigned as doorkeepers for the ark (v23); and they were Berekiah, the father of Asaph (1 Chr 6:39), Elkanah, the grandfather of Heman (1 Chr 6:34), with the same Obed-Edom and one Jehiah as back-up {or maybe, rear-end} doorkeepers (v24). Clearly, Obed-Edom, the Gittite was NOT involved. The Obed-Edom involved in the procession was Obed-Edom, the 2nd tier Levite whose formal and usual job, was a gatekeeper.

From 1 Chr 16:1 we know that David was successful in bringing the ark to the City of David, on this 2nd attempt:

They brought the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before God (1 Chr 16:1).

We must understand that at this time, the Temple of Solomon had NOT yet been built; David had prepared a tent to house the ark of the LORD.

So, now, who was the Obed-Edom who was involved in the 2nd attempt by David to bring the ark to the City of David (old Jerusalem)? It was Obed-Edom, a 2nd tier (2nd rank)-Levite who was a gatekeeper, NOT Obed-Edom, the Gittite. Obed-Edom, the Levite, his role in the procession was to play the harp along with other Levites assigned, and secondarily, he served as back-up (or perhaps, rear-end) doorkeeper for the ark.

Who was the Obed-Edom who was said to be a musician? And who was the Obed-Edom who was said to be a gatekeeper?
From the above, the Obed-Edom who had a musical role in the procession was Obed-Edom, the 2nd tier Levite who was a gatekeeper. It had nothing to do with Obed-Edom, the Gittite; although I am NOT saying that it was NOT possible Obed-Edom, the Gittite, followed the ark to the City of David, but Scripture did NOT say he did that.

What about at the City of David? There was a celebration, and this is what was recorded for us:

4 He {David} appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to extol,[a] thank, and praise the LORD, the God of Israel: 5 Asaph was the chief, and next to him in rank were Zechariah, then Jaaziel,[b] Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel. They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals, 6 and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God. (1 Chr 16:4-6)

From 1 Chr 15, we continued into 1 Chr 16; the Obed-Edom in verse 5 (of 1 Chr 16) was the same Obed-Edom who played the harp in bringing the ark to the City. There is no reason to believe that a different Obed-Edom was involved. The difference in rank or tier was still reflected there, Asaph being higher in rank. He (Obed-Edom) just continued to minister before the ark in the same capacity as a harp musician, which was his temporary assignment, for his formal and usual function was a Levite gatekeeper.

It should be understood that the ark of God was moved to the City of David, and placed in a tent specifically made by the order of David for the LORD, but the original Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) was NOT brought into the City with the ark.

It should be noted with the arrival of the ark in the City of David, David instituted a set of religious duties for the priests and general Levites to be undertaken before the LORD, and this had been omitted in the Book of Samuel, and so, it was more elaborately narrated in 1 Chronicles. I will NOT go into too much details, but it suffices to mention, firstly, the original Tabernacle was still in Gibeon, and secondly, there was then a scenario of 2 tents, one in the City of David with the ark of the LORD in it, and the other, with all the other implements of the tabernacle (including the altar of burnt offering) but without the ark, still in Gibeon. The original Tabernacle (Tabernacle of Moses) with all the other implements could NOT be ignored, and must continue to be maintained. Because of David’s instructions to include music and singing, the Tabernacle at the City of David was also called the Tabernacle of Praise. The Tabernacle of Moses essentially became the Tabernacle of Sacrifice (sacrifices were made on the altar of burnt offering still within the Tabernacle of Moses).

David instituted and wanted Asaph and his associates to minister to the LORD daily at the City of David, according to each day’s requirements. Asaph and his associates were musicians, and so, it is believed they ministered songs, praise, worship, and joyful sound before the LORD daily. Other Levites were left there to minister to the LORD, including the gatekeepers. Now, Obed-Edom was again reflected in David’s instructions:

37 David left Asaph and his associates before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister there regularly, according to each day’s requirements. 38 He also left Obed-Edom and his sixty-eight associates to minister with them. Obed-Edom son of Jeduthun, and also Hosah, were gatekeepers. (1 Chr 16:37-38).

39 David left Zadok the priest and his fellow priests before the tabernacle of the LORD at the high place in Gibeon 40 to present burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of burnt offering regularly, morning and evening, in accordance with everything written in the Law of the LORD, which he had given Israel. 41 With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the LORD, “for his love endures forever.” 42 Heman and Jeduthun were responsible for the sounding of the trumpets and cymbals and for the playing of the other instruments for sacred song. The sons of Jeduthun were stationed at the gate. (1 Chr 16:39-42).

David appointed Asaph as chief musician to minister before the Tabernacle of Praise in the City of David (v37). The other key head musician, Heman, was sent up to Gibeon to minister before the Tabernacle of Moses where burnt offerings were still being done regularly. In verse 38, we read the Obed-Edom, the Levite, was the son of the Levite, Jeduthun. And he, Obed-Edom, together with his 68 associates ministered with Asaph (and his associates) before the Tabernacle of Praise. And Obed-Edom continued to function in his original role as a gatekeeper.

For one thing, since it was all a continuation, and there was nothing to cause to us to think otherwise, the Obed-Edom referred to, here, should be the same Obed-Edom as in 1 Chr 15, who took part in the procession of the ark into the City of David. Also, one unchallenged view has it that Jeduthun and Ethan of 1 Chr 15:17 {given above} were the same person. That being the case, since Ethan was a Merarite-Levite {1 Chr 6:44-46}, the Obed-Edom here was a Merarite-Levite.

Meanwhile, Zadok, the priest was assigned to Gibeon, for the priest must be there to carry out the burnt offerings on the altar of burnt offerings. Heman and Jeduthun (the father of Obed-Edom) ministered music there, and other sons of Jeduthun functioned as gatekeepers at the Tabernacle of Moses in Gibeon (Some of the sons of Jeduthun also functioned as musicians. Jeduthun family was believed to be great string instrumentalists, especially the harp {1 Chr 25:3 recorded it for us; now, Obed-Edom was NOT listed there; I believed it was because Obed-Edom was assigned to Asaph in the City of David to assist in music, even though formally he was a gatekeeper, while Jeduthun and some of his sons were assigned to Gibeon – The father, Jeduthun went to assist Heman, and his son, Obed-Edom assisted Asaph}).

From notations against the psalms in Scriptures (and also from 1 Chr 25:6 – these 3, Heman, Asaph and Jeduthun, were under the King’s supervision, and they in turn supervised those below them), we know the 3 head musicians of David were Heman, Asaph and Jeduthun, and therefore, I submit to you that, because of the 2 separate locations, due to the 2 Tabernacles, Obed-Edom, son of Jeduthun was put to assist Asaph, even as he (Obed-Edom) continued to serve as a gatekeeper {1 Chr 16:38}, making each location with 2 main musicians {Obed-Edom assisting Asaph, and Jeduthun, Heman}).

The above covered the time period where the Temple of Solomon had NOT yet being built; subsequent to this, in 1 Chr 23, we read that David had become old and he made his son, Solomon, King in his place, and because of his heart for the LORD and the lesson he learnt from his experience of NOT following the prescribed ways of ministering to the LORD, he once again specifically laid down the roles and duties of the Levites (including priests) concerning ministering to the LORD in anticipation of the Temple which Solomon would build, so that his descendants and the people would be careful to observe the requirements of the LORD.

He gathered together all the leaders of Israel, as well as the priests and Levites. The Levites of 30 years old or more were counted, and they numbered 38,000. This was how David divided the roles of the Levites: 24,000 were to supervise the work of the temple, 6,000 were to be officials and judges, 4,000 were to be gatekeepers, and the balance 4,000 were to praise the LORD, i.e. be designated as temple singers of the LORD, to sing and praise God with songs and musical instruments David had provided for that purpose.

In 1 Chr 23:6, we read this:

David divided the Levites into groups corresponding to the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

Levi, one of the 12 sons of Israel (aka Jacob) had 3 sons, Gershon, Kohath and Merari. From these 3 came the tribes of Levi.

Gershon’s descendants were listed there - 1 Ch 23:7-11. Moses and Aaron (also Miriam) were siblings, and their father was Amram, son of Kohath, son of Levi, meaning Moses and Aaron were Levites. Because the LORD had, right from the beginning, had Moses led the Israelites, out of Egypt, and Aaron, being made the high-priest, it was the Kohathites who had the exclusivity of being priests for the LORD, amongst the Levites. This meant that all priests were Levites, but NOT all Levites were priests. God designated that priestly functions were to be done by the priests, and the general Levites were subject to the High-priest. The general Levites were supposed to, under the direction of the High-priest (and his priests), to take care of the non-priestly functions. The priestly functions included: consecrating the most holy things, offering of sacrifices before the LORD, ministering before God, and pronouncing blessings in His name. The descendants of Moses were also listed there -1 Chr 23:15-20. The early {just the early} descendants of Merarites were listed there - 1 Chr 23:21-23.

1 Chr 24 further gave us the ancestries of the Levites from the functional (priest and non-priest) perspective. 1 Chr 25 gave us the singers and musicians. 1 Chr 26 gave us the gatekeepers, and in there we read of Obed-Edom!

Obed-Edom appeared in verse 4 (of 1 Chr 26), and because verse 1 has the word, “Korahites (clan of Kohathites), some interpreted Obed-Edom was a Kohathites or Korahites. Actually, there is ambiguity in the couple of verses there; for one, Asaph was listed there, verse 1, worded as if he was under Korahites when we know from 1 Chr 6:39-42, Asaph was a Gershonite-Levite. Although it was possible that some sons of Asaph, and therefore, clans from Asaph could be gatekeepers (as was the case for Jeduthun), Asaph (who co-ranked with Heman {and Jeduthun}) was NOT a Korahites (or Kohathites). It was ambiguous there; whether or not, one can conclude, the Obed-Edom there, in verse 4 (of 1 Chr 26) was also a Korahites, and therefore, conflicts with 1 Chr 16:38 which clearly said Obed-Edom was the son of Jeduthun (aka Ethan), and therefore, a Merarite-Levite, is subjective. I believe, in such a scenario, the correct approach to take, is to adopt the unambiguous verse, and that would be 1 Chr 16:38, i.e. the Obed-Edom who was a gatekeeper was a Merarite and NOT a Kohathite or Korahite Levite. Furthermore, the way 1 Chr 26:1-5 were worded, it appeared to want to refer to the “next in rank” gatekeepers, and their sons, and so, Jeduthun (or Ethan) was NOT reflected there; and also, Jeduthun (or Ethan) was NOT to be classified under “gatekeepers”, for he was a chief musician, and had been reflected in 1 Chr 25. In any case, it was clear that, the Obed-Edom who was a gatekeeper was a Levite, and could not have been a Gentile, Gittite.

Obed-Edom, the Merarite (I have preferred accepting 1 Chr 16:38), had 8 sons (1 Chr 26:4-5), and when lots were casted (then; lots would be casted for each new term), the lot for the South Gate fell to Obed-Edom, and the lot for the storehouse fell to his sons. (1 Chr 26:15). The section on gatekeepers concluded with verse 19 saying this: These were the divisions of the gatekeepers who were descendants of Korah and Merari (I believe Korahite (Kohathite) equivalent in rank with Obed-Edom (of Merarite) was Meshelemiah given in verse 1 (of 1 Chr 26). Just as Obed-Edom’s sons were listed (vv4-5), Meshelemiah’s sons were listed in verses 2-3).

Before we move on to who was the Obed-Edom who was said to be a treasurer, let me conclude on who the Obed-Edom who was said to be a musician, and who was the Obed-Edom who was a gatekeeper. Why did I go at great length about the genealogy and functions of the Levites? It is my hope that you get a clearer picture that it was highly unlikely if NOT impossible for the Gittite Obed-Edom to be functioning as a musician or a gatekeeper or doorkeeper before the ark or Tabernacle or in the Temple of God. I have omitted to refer to the Torah (or the 1st 5 Books of Moses), but if you go there, you will know that God left very strict instructions as to who could minister before Him, before the ark and in the Tabernacle, and therefore, also Temple of God. There was no doubt that David knew his God, the LORD, but he was initially NOT careful to pay attention to this aspect of the requirements of the LORD, and he learnt it the hard way (by the way, king Saul also learnt it the hard way), in his failed attempt (1st attempt) to bring the ark of the LORD from the house of Abinadab to the City of David. David learnt fast and he learnt well, and he wanted to make sure his successor, his son, King Solomon, to know well, and therefore, he laid down clearly, who and who were to minister in what capacities to the LORD. A Gittite Obed-Edom could NEVER be a Merarite-Levite; for who were the Levites was all predetermined, as 1 Chr 23:6 (given above) showed. Today, any believer can be a priest or a pastor, and can minister before the Lord, but that is because of the works of Jesus on the Cross, but back then, it was NOT so. The Obed-Edom who was a gatekeeper was the Merarite-Levite, son of Jeduthun; and he, Obed-Edom doubled-up to minister with head musician, Asaph, at City of David, because his father, Jeduthun was assigned to assist Heman in Gibeon.

And lastly, who was the Obed-Edom who was said to have been the treasurer?
Below is the section from 1 Chr 26 on the treasurers:

20 Their fellow Levites were[b] in charge of the treasuries of the house of God and the treasuries for the dedicated things. 21 The descendants of Ladan, who were Gershonites through Ladan and who were heads of families belonging to Ladan the Gershonite, were Jehieli, 22 the sons of Jehieli, Zetham and his brother Joel. They were in charge of the treasuries of the temple of the LORD.

23 From the Amramites, the Izharites, the Hebronites and the Uzzielites: 24 Shubael, a descendant of Gershom son of Moses, was the officer in charge of the treasuries. 25 His relatives through Eliezer: Rehabiah his son, Jeshaiah his son, Joram his son, Zicri his son and Shelomith his son. 26 Shelomith and his relatives were in charge of all the treasuries for the things dedicated by King David, by the heads of families who were the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and by the other army commanders. 27 Some of the plunder taken in battle they dedicated for the repair of the temple of the LORD. 28 And everything dedicated by Samuel the seer and by Saul son of Kish, Abner son of Ner and Joab son of Zeruiah, and all the other dedicated things were in the care of Shelomith and his relatives. (1 Chr 26:20-28)

Another key function of the Levites was to act as treasurers for the temple of the LORD, for there were the general treasuries, and the treasuries of dedicated things. There were offerings dropped off, by the people who came to the Temple, there were the dedicated things of the Temple, and the latter included those dedicated by the kings, as well as plunders of war dedicated for the Temple or to the LORD.

From the above scripture passage, we know only 2 of the 3 sub-tribes of the Levites were involved as treasurers. From verses 21-22, we know the Gershonites were involved. From verse 23, we know the Kohathites were involved; Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites and Ussielites were all clans within Kohathites; Amramites, for example, were descendants of Amram, descendant of Kohath. (Some of the Kohathites were also assigned out of the temple to be officials and judges over Israel).

From the above, we know that Merarite-Levites were NOT involved as treasurers, and so, solely based on the above, there could NOT be a Merarite-Levite Obed-Edom who was a treasurer. Then, from where did that erroneous notion come? It came from a misunderstanding of what the role of the gatekeepers given charge of the storehouse of the Temple, and a misreading of 2 Chr 25:23-24 where the name Obed-Edom appeared.

In 1 Chr 26:14-16 we read this, regarding the Temple gates and the storehouse of the Temple:

14 The lot for the East Gate fell to Shelemiah.[a] Then lots were cast for his son Zechariah, a wise counselor, and the lot for the North Gate fell to him. 15 The lot for the South Gate fell to Obed-Edom, and the lot for the storehouse fell to his sons. 16 The lots for the West Gate and the Shalleketh Gate on the upper road fell to Shuppim and Hosah. (1 Chr 26:14-16)

From the above, we know that in those days, among the gatekeepers (Levites), they drew lots to assign duties for each term. And we know, as previously noted, Obed-Edom, the Merarite-Levite was assigned the South Gate. From verse 15 above, we also know that the storehouse lot fell to Obed-Edom’s sons. Now, the whole section in this 1 Chr 26 was concerning the gatekeepers, in other words, the storehouse and the 4 gates came under the gatekeepers. Among the many duties, and you can read about them in 1 Chr 9:26-29 (although there, the scenario painted could be that of the Tabernacle {v24} rather than a temple, but it was still equally applicable), was that gatekeepers guarded over the gates, and if the storehouse was included, the guarding of the same. In other words, their main duties were that of a guard. Now, as a guard for the storehouse was different from being the treasurer of the treasury of the Temple. It is NOT even important to discuss what was found in the storehouse, but verse 28 of 1 Chr 9 painted to us, articles used in the Temple (made of gold and silver) moved in and out of the storehouse, and it was the duty of the gatekeepers or guards to check if correct number were taken out and returned. Gatekeepers in charge of the storehouse were guards on duty to ensure the storehouse was NOT broken into, burgled, and items pilfered, they were NO treasurers. The Merarites-Levites gatekeepers, like Obed-Edom or his sons, were NOT Temple treasurers.

Now, we turn to 2 Chr 25:23-24:

23 Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Ahaziah,[e] at Beth Shemesh. Then Jehoash brought him {king Amaziah} to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate—a section about six hundred feet[f] long. 24 He took all the gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of God that had been in the care of Obed-Edom, together with the palace treasures and the hostages, and returned to Samaria. (2 Chr 25:23-24)

Now, the above incident happened, at least 180 years after the reign of King David (if you traced the genealogy of the kings of Judah, Amaziah came into power after more than ½ a dozen kings). So, firstly, the Obed-Edom here could NOT be the Gittite Obed-Edom. Secondly, the Merarite-Levite Obed-Edom, of David’s time, around the same time as the Gittite Obed-Edom, too, could NOT have lived until the time of King Amaziah!

One possibility is that the Obed-Edom here was referring to the clan name, started from The Merarite-Levite Obed-Edom. This means that the actual person(s) involved were the descendant(s) of the Merarite-Levite gatekeeper, Obed-Edom, NOT himself; and they were NO treasurers of the treasury of the Temple; they were merely gatekeepers, who, in that time, also had been assigned to guard the storehouse. If at all it was referring to a specific individual, then it had to be a recycling of ancestral name, which was NOT impossible, but it obviously was NOT the same Obed-Edom of David’s time (from the bringing of the ark into the City of David).

The king of Israel (Northern Kingdom, Israel, for the United Monarchy of Israel was already split, into Israel and Judah {in the south}) came attacking and broke a section of the wall of Jerusalem, went into the Temple, and looted the storehouse which was then under the guarding of the Obed-Edom clan, and the Israelites from the North (Samaria), also looted the palace treasury and took hostages.

The above was what it was all about; and there was NO Gittite Obed-Edom as treasurer, in charge of the Temple treasury, nor was there the Merarite-Levite Obed-Edom, son of Jeduthun, personally present (or still alive), but merely that the descendants of the Merarite-Levite Obed-Edom were on duty at that time as gatekeepers of one of the gates and the storehouse.

I repeat, books, articles, and sermons had been spun out of this so-called secret of Obed-Edom, or the pleasing ways of Obed-Edom; they were erroneous, for their core premise of one Obed-Edom throughout, was faulty. While I know 2 Tim 3:16 said that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”, still facts and reasonableness CANNOT be ignored. Filling-in of gaps is one thing, but no matter how we fill in the gap, we cannot contradict existing facts given in Scripture.

These are clear:
1. In the first attempt by David to bring the ark of the LORD from the house of Abinadab to the City of David, when Uzziah was struck by the LORD and killed, the ark was “parked” with the Gittite Obed-Edom. There was NOTHING to suggest the Gittite Obed-Edom was also the subsequent Merarite-Levite. A Levite was a Levite, he could NOT be a Gittite, and a Gittite could NOT be a Levite (Even if the Gath referred to, in 2 Sam 6:10-11 was equated to Gath-Rimmon, a Kohathite-Levite and a Merarite-Levite were NOT the same). By the way, Levites, they did NOT fight in battles, unlike the Gittites who were warriors for David.

2. The Obed-Edom who functioned as a musician, playing the harp, and served as a back-up (or rear-end) doorkeeper in David’s 2nd attempt to bring the ark to the City of David, was NOT the Gittite Obed-Edom. The latter, whether or NOT he followed the ark of the LORD down to the City of David, we know NOT, for scriptures did NOT say.

3. The Obed-Edom who functioned as a musician, played the harp, and served as a doorkeeper in David’s 2nd attempt to bring the ark of LORD to the City of David was the Merarite-Levite, Obed-Edom, son of Jeduthun.

4. The duties of Levites were all established during the time of Moses, right from the time God took the Levi Tribe as His own to minister to Him. They did NOT fight directly in battles, and they did NOT inherit territories but were given cities and places to live, and were (supposed to be) looked after, by the other tribes of Israel, as was instructed by God. Functions such as priests and gatekeepers were long established, the various sub-tribes and clans of the Levites knew what they were supposed to do. A clan assigned to be gatekeepers, generally stayed as gatekeepers for generations. Only certain Levites could be priests, the rest could NOT; all these duties and functions of the Levites were carefully observed, although there were periods of lapses (in Judges Period for example) but still occasions revealed in Scriptures were none of the kind that Gentiles taking over the roles of Levites as a normality. A Gentile could NOT be deemed a Levite and functioned like a Levite (At least NOT under the hand of David, after his realization of the importance of the roles of Levites, after his 1st attempt to move the ark). Examples are present in Scripture of the fury of God’s wrath when there was disobedience; the Uzziah incident was one; the 2 sons of Aaron died when they offered “unauthorized” fire before the LORD was another; and King Saul losing his kingdom when he took upon himself the role which the priest and prophet, Samuel, could function in, was also another. You should be convinced by the lengthy and detailed instructions of David concerning all of these, after he realised the seriousness of properly ministering before the LORD.

5. The Levite Obed-Edom was merely doing his duties, almost NOTHING more than that. He was a Merarite-Levite, and his job for life was a gatekeeper, and his sons were to be, also; except, because of David’s remodeling of the worship ministering before the LORD, he doubled up as a musician. As evidenced by scriptures which we have seen above, even after more than ½ a dozen kings later on, his descendants or clan were still gatekeepers.

6. There was nothing of the sorts that the Levite Obed-Edom did an extraordinary good job of having his sons also serving the LORD. No, if you were a Levite-gatekeeper, your sons would be one; they just would NOT be going round trying to do another thing, unless the King or the priest said so. If they did, most likely they were doing them against the wishes of the LORD or because the other tribes of Israel failed to provide for the Levite tribe (as they were required to, by the LORD) as recorded for us, in occasions, in the Judges Period.

7. Obed-Edom was NOT promoted from a gatekeeper to be a treasurer. If there was any scope expansion, it was only that David had let him doubled up as musician to support Asaph in the City of David, before the Tabernacle of Praise, which housed the ark, because his (Obed-Edom’s) father, Jeduthun, had to be at Gibeon to support Heman who was ministering before the Tabernacle of Moses (of Sacrifice).

Only if you are preaching Obed-Edom NOT in contradiction to the above points, you perhaps have a “legitimate message”. Similarly, for listeners or readers, watch what you hear or read; whatever the message, it must NOT contradict the above points. If you have NOT heard about Obed-Edom being portrayed as models in the likes of Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Esther, etc, until more recently, it was because Scripture did NOT make him out to be one. Separating him from the Gittite Obed-Edom, the Levite Obed-Edom was NOT given any comments by God of how he had functioned; we were merely told of what he functioned in, as a Levite, hardly enough to build any case of him having any pleasing ways or secrets!

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Anthony Chia, high.expressions
Lord, as far as I could search out, your Word did NOT contain the facts that could justify the use of the character, Obed-Edom, particularly, to say the way to receive prosperity blessings from you is to follow the ways of Obed-Edom, the Levite. But I did learn you used the Gentiles, Gittites, for your cause of protecting your servant, David, and the Gittites showed great dedication and loyalty to their leader, David; and you were pleased to bless when we revere you despite our fear.

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